Saturday, July 2, 2011
We arrived at the River Arno bridges again and located the section featuring the jewelry stores. They were teeny, tiny shops where more than five occupants would constitute a crowd with an oxygen deficit. The girls investigated the merchandise options, but decided that their favorites were generally rather pricey and they might fair better in NYC.
Laura was further pursuing the possibility of a purchase while Sharon, Marianne and I were more interested in finding a place to sit for a few minutes. The search for available seating is like a treasure hunt, and we eventually spotted a couple who were looking ever so comfortable on a second level balcony that overlooked the streets and shops. As a bonus, it was affiliated with a gelateria. It looked so inviting, we left Laura in the jewelry store and walked over to order a snack. The gelato servings were huge, and Marianne was being so good, ordering a fresh fruit cup instead. We loved sitting on this balcony that overlooked the constant flow of shoppers on the street below. I noticed a gathering of police on the corner, but couldn't detect any evidence of a threatening issue of any kind. The large group of officers just seemed to be hanging around.
Completing her jewelry shopping, Laura joined us and we once again set out walking. We hadn't traveled far when we approached a crowd of people who were following two young girls. These young ladies were surrounded by a camera crew and body guards. What was going on here? It seems that we had stumbled upon Snookie and Sam from The Jersey Shore reality show. Marianne had heard that they were filming in Florence, but we had no idea we would run smack into the shoot. The Jersey Shore girls stopped at a corner vendor and purchased some items as the cameras rolled.
We were fascinated and stopped to observe, taking a few photos. A large group of spectators had formed, and the crew requested that the audience not just stand there staring. The female crew member located by us kept saying, "It's going to look weird if everyone is just standing here. Sweep.....sweep..." she would say, motioning with her flailing arms to keep everyone moving and not stuck in the same spot. Most people weren't really cooperating with her requests, however. She turned to Sharon and me and said, "Look what my life has become!"
We began snapping photos, and a huge body guard positioned himself between the girls and my camera. He said, "Just take a photo of me!" So I did. I'm sure they have trouble distinguishing between the curious tourist and the serious paparazzi whose intention is to sell their photos to the tabloids. We did manage to capture a few photos in spite of their protests.
Trudging on foot back to the hotel to freshen up, we were literally putting miles on the soles of our shoes! I was wishing that I had brought my pedometer so I could see exactly how far we were walking every day. I may have said this before, but that thought frequently entered my mind.
Following a short rest, shower, and change of clothing, we began walking once again toward the area of the various piazzas to find a suitable location for dinner. We chose Il Grande Nuti, located on Via Borgo San Lorenzo, which turned out to be another lovely outdoor dining experience. Sharon and I decided on a pork steak special, just a touch dry, but not bad. Laura opted for steak and Marianne tried the salmon. Once again, the local house wine was an appealing choice.
During our after-dinner walk through the squares and piazzas, we were constantly approached by young guys who were launching these bright and sparkling whirling things they were selling. It actually became annoying because they would aim them to land right at your feet. They were pretty decent about taking no for an answer, however. Then there was the young girl selling scarves. She walked along with us, targeting Marianne to buy one of her selections, and the further we walked away from her, the lower the price became. When she reached 3 Euro, Marianne finally relented and bought the scarf. It was a nice choice, and the price was right. Frequently, we did find that with street vendors, our lack of interest could reduce the price.
By the end of the evening, we were really exhausted again. I believe it will take a few days to adjust to the jet lag/time difference issue. It's almost as though your brain is foggy--sort of like it's too difficult to concentrate on anything that involves intricate details. I found it practically painful to try to look at our map with the tiny print.
Upon returning to our hotel, we all went to our respective caves, closed our doors and settled in for the night.
Thursday, May 19, 2011:
The safe in my room wasn't functioning, so I have been using Sharon's. I called the front desk to see if they could fix it so I won't have to keep bothering Sharon every time I want to get in and out of the safe. The maintenance person diagnosed the problem and had it fixed within seconds. It needed a new battery.
The maid must have removed Sharon's wash cloth along with the towels, but she wouldn't admit it. Sharon attempted to communicate with her in hopes of having it returned, but that simply wasn't going to happen---ever. It's like the maid had no idea what Sharon was trying to convey or she's just pretending not to know. It's difficult to tell.
We ventured back to the leather market area today, purchasing some handbags, scarves, and other souvenirs. We ate a delicious light lunch in one of the restaurants behind the vendor booths. The sandwiches were on some sort of very light bread, and the ingredients were ever so fresh. It was just enough food to fill us without making us feel bloated.
There was one particular oriental scarf vendor who displayed a variety of examples of interesting scarf tying methods. With lightning speed, he could create a sophisticated look. We asked him to take it slowly and start at the beginning so we could follow his styling process and...oh dear....perhaps even remember how he accomplished this. We concurred that we would literally have to practice in order to duplicate and perfect the scarf arranging skills that he attempted to impart to us. We all talked about how we have scarves at home, but don't often bother with them because it takes too much time and effort to fuss with them to get them just right before dashing out the door.
"Don't be afraid of the scarf," Sharon offered.
"That's right--do not fear the scarf," reiterated Laura.
Tomorrow, our oldest granddaughter, Gabriella, is going with a guy friend to his Senior Prom, so I called and left her a voice mail so she would know I was thinking of her. I know she'll look gorgeous, and I wish I could see her in her gown and up-do in person. I sure hope she emails some photos to me! Although I'm having a great time in Italy, I keep thinking about her going to her first prom--and how quickly they grow up in the blink of an eye.